Showing posts from January, 2007

Blood Diamond

Traffic dealt with drugs. Syriana dealt with oil. Lord of War dealt with the arms trade. And now Blood Diamond deals with conflict diamonds. Each of these films deals with the horrific effect greed for these commodities has on human lives. They’re also a wake-up call for cinema goers who would probably skip over a page 6 article on the topic in their daily newspapers.

If you’re totally unfamiliar with the humanitarian crisis resulting from the illegal conflict diamond trade, you’ll probably be hard hit by Blood Diamond. If however, you have any knowledge of events in North West Africa the information presented is pretty obvious and well-known. And in some cases a bit sanitised – rape is mentioned, but the film’s PG age restriction means we don’t see this horrific atrocity in any form.

What the film does present most successfully is the brainwashing of young captured boys, and their transformation into AK-47 wielding rebels. Remember that scene in Pinocchio where boys are lured to a fun…

For anyone in the creative client-service industries


Batman: What could have Begun

I like Christopher Nolan's films, but SuperheroHype reports on a Moviehole interview with director Darren Aronofsky, who was at one point linked to the new Batman series. Aronofsky is responsible for the visually stunning and visceral Requiem For A Dream, and The Fountain.

Anyway, Moviehole users asked Aronofsky what his cinematic approach to Batman would have been like...

Daniel, Melbourne: What was your take on Batman going to be like? Were you going in the direction Chris Nolan went, or would you have retained some of the dark fantasy feel that Tim Burton brought to the character? What villain(s)would have been there to battle Batman, and would you have retold the origin story, or pulled a Singer and made your film a continuation of the past series?

Darren: I was never planning to direct Year One. I was more interested in writing a screenplay with Frank Miller on Batman. My pitch was always very realistic. I wasn't interested in fantasy, I was interested in the psychology of a…

Trailer Tuesday: Marie Antoinette

I must say… my interest for Sophia Coppola’s latest, Marie Antoinette, was really piqued by a TV spot which started like a conventional period costume drama and then transformed with Bow Wow Wow’s I Want Candy kicking in.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find that clip on YouTube. However, the full trailer successfully captures the paradox of 18th Century tradition versus Versailles’ decadent party atmosphere:

Reviews for Marie Antoinette have been mixed (the standard criticism is that Coppola gets more caught up in capturing Antoinette’s obsession with clothes and food and jewellery than worrying about filmic substance). Some of my favourite movie blogs however thoroughly enjoyed the film, calling it a fun, decadent pleasure – movie cake as opposed to bread, if you will.

And I like cake.

Plus, I’m a huge Kirsten Dunst fan. Although I think she is totally wasted in the Spider-Man movies, my following of her filmography was assured from the moment she appeared onscreen as a child-vampire in Interv…

Weekend of responsibility and pop culture

OK, here’s the normal Monday morning mix of personal and pop culture.

In terms of superhero type material, I watched Superman IV: Quest for Peace on Thursday evening (I was too tired and in a bad mood to work on my Girlz ‘N’ Games). Yeesh, that film really proves how the Superman series decreased in quality. Forget rotating the world backwards. To defeat his new nemesis Nuclear Man (who is utterly useless when not exposed to the sun), Superman moves the moon to cause an eclipse – forget damage to the world’s tidal systems! And Nuclear Man drags Supes’ love interest into outer space and she’s perfectly fine, despite the lack of oxygen.

On Sunday, Batman Begins was on TV and I felt compelled to watch that again. I still have mixed feelings about the film, especially since they wasted Scarecrow, one of my favourite ever Bat villains. After the film finished I just had to load Tim Burton’s Batman in the DVD player and watch his far more iconic, dreamlike interpretation of the death of Bruce…

Gerard Butler's abs... 4 storeys high!

My apologies for the lack of updates on Friday - I was at a cycle brief, which I suppose translates into non-advertising speak as a product launch for salespeople, combined with an outlining of sales goals for the coming year.

Anyway, here's some awesome news for the weekend. Anyone who has seen the trailer for 300 on the big screen knows how visually stunning this film is going to be. Now the experience is getting even BIGGER with film going glorious IMAX!

I actually think it may be too much to handle...

I can't get too excited just yet though, as it's not certain (probably unlikely) that 300 will be released in IMAX format in South Africa. We missed out on the Spider-Man 2 and Superman Returns releases... and instead received Night at the Museum. Um, yes, some smart thinking there.

300 is being released on 9 March in the USA. No word yet on when 300 will debut in South Africa. Our release schedule looks set until at least mid-April, with no sign of 300 anywhere.


I blame my creative director…

I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. And I blame my creative director. I’ve been up way past my intended bedtime every night this week ever since he loaned me his Sandman collection. Sandman… lack of sleep… the irony…

Anyway, I finished Volume 1 last night (Preludes and Nocturnes), which collected Issues 1-8 of Neil Gaiman's series. Ah, there’s just something about comics for adults that is just so deliciously refreshing.

In your standard superhero comic, sure your villains are evil, but they still seem to operate by some sort of code. They have limits in their evil. In comics for mature readers, well, the gloves are off. The villains of these tales with befriend a mother of 2 and then shoot her at point-blank range in the face. They’ll plunge the world into madness, triggering nurses to set geriatric hospital wards on fire and businessmen stumbling around animal shelters with a bloody baseball bat. They get into people’s minds and have them chop off their own fingers.

It brings…


This controversy has been brewing for a while (RC of Strange Culture mentioned it on his blog a while back), and it’s finally exploded at the Sundance Film Festival. You see, in Dakota Fanning’s bid to grow into the next Jodie Foster (and not Lindsay Lohan), she’s beginning to dip into some wrenching, uncomfortable material. In her next film, Hounddog, set in the poverty stricken American Deep South of the 1950s, her 12 year old character is raped. This scene is depicted in the movie… well… suggested with close-ups on Fanning’s arms, trembling legs and terrified face.

And conservative America just can’t handle it. The film has yet to be picked up for distribution, no doubt out of fear that many cinemas will refuse to show it. Many religious groups have (without seeing the film!) called on it to be banned on child pornography grounds.

I honestly can’t think what the problem is. Of course, child rape is a horrific topic. You are meant to feel discomfort to complete outrage when it is depi…

Bits 'N' Pieces

Let's see... bits 'n' pieces of news from my side...

After months of dropped hints and moaning (about the fact everyone had them except us), the copywriters received a present yesterday - new LCD flatscreen monitors. Not only does it make the studio look more professional, and free up space on our desks, but it's so much better on our eyes, staring at black text on white backgrounds for 8 hours at a stretch.

Now to organise a new monitor for home...

Speaking of work, tonight we're off to the Pavilion to see the Lion Award-winning commercials from Cannes last year. Afterwards, I think I'll stop in at the Exclusive Books Summer Sale preview evening (exclusive to Club members). The proper Summer Sale starts tomorrow, 25 January.

Last night I went to no-gi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the first time. I thought it would be the cooler option as Durban's paralysing Summer humidity kicks in, but in many ways it was worse. Gi's may be thick and heavy but their cotton suc…

The Academy Award nominations

This year's Oscar nominations have been announced with few surprises this time around. Here are all the major categories, as well as all those that interest me personally.

You can view the complete list at Ain'tItCoolNews, where I pulled the following:

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Jennifer Hu…

Trailer Tuesday: Hairspray

I'm sure my usual blog readers won't really be drawn to this one, but I thought I had better do the loyal pfan thing and post up the trailer for the musical Hairspray, one of 3 Michelle Pfeiffer pfilms due for release in 2007. As this short little teaser reveals (and it reveals little else), Hairspray is all-star all the way: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Allison Janney etc etc etc.

If the teaser does nothing for you, check out the official Hairspray website, which has a more interesting flash intro.

For the record, Hairspray is based on the hit, award-winning Broadway musical, which is in turn based on a cult John Waters movie from the early 1980s. Here's the IMDB plot summary:

Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nicole Blonsky) and her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) audition to be on The Corny Collins Show and Tracy wins. But when scheming Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and her mother (…

Pop goes the weekend

I’m sitting here with that weird spaced out First Person Shooter feeling. I planned to be in bed early last night but then I decided to update my iPod, and selecting 4GB of music from a folder that’s 20GB+ in size, is real Sophie’s Choice stuff.

Anyway as for this weekend’s pop culture activities, I finally got around to watching Martin Scorsese’s The Departed on Friday evening. It’s a very good film if a tad long – the film particularly loses energy once Jack Nicholson’s enigmatic gangster ‘departs’.

Anyway, in terms of The Departed’s superb cast, it’s refreshing to see former heartthrobs Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and even Mark Wahlberg, showing some serious dramatic acting chops. The audience especially feels for DiCaprio, who seems of all the characters to get a bum deal – discredited, suffering from severe anxiety, and under mounting pressure from both the police and the brutal gangsters to carry on an identity charade. Matt Damon’s character, by comparison, comes across as a smooth…

For starters

There is nothing like starting a Monday by sitting in gridlock traffic for an hour. Phew. So while I regain my sanity and cool down to my normal body temperature, here's are a few finger-itching plush toys and figurines I found while browsing the NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) website.

For all you children of the 1980's - a Mogwi plushie!

If you haven't already choked on your popcorn watching the 300 trailer, then there's a similarly awesome set of 300 collectibles, right here. Due for release soon, these 4 figurines in Series 1 include King Leonidas (girls, now you can stroke Gerard Butler's abs all day) and one of Xerxes' elite guard, The Immortals.

And not forgetting gamer types, here's the Player Select Series, which includes Lara Croft, Hitman and Kain.

Déjà Vu

Déjà Vu is the latest film from Ridley’s Scott’s younger brother, Tony (Top Gun, Enemy of the State, Man on Fire). As far as action thrillers go, it’s one of the better ones of the past year or so.

Set in post-Katrina New Orleans (an intriguing choice of location), Denzel Washington plays an ATF agent roped into investigating a horrific terrorist attack. His detective skills catch the attention of Val Kilmer and his team of scientists who are running a top secret project for the government. The goal of this secret project? Solve crimes by looking back 4 days in time, and watching events unfurling. Of course, such a passive, voyeuristic approach is too much for Washington, who has become emotionally invested in the fate of beautiful victim, Paula Patton. Will he risk everything and meddle with past? Will his fiddling change events, or make absolutely no difference?

Déjà Vu has plenty of plot holes, a few draggy parts and perhaps tries too hard to be a brain-boggling mind trip – The Bu…

He-Who-Must-Not-Be Named

I don't have the space at home to collect figurines, but I like to keep an eye out for the really cool collectibles relating to my favourite pop culture properties. Anyway, a recent visit to Harry Potter site, The Leaky Cauldron revealed this creepy Voldemort figurine. The likeness to Ralph Fiennes is fantastic.

You can see the other figurines (from NECA): Harry, a Dementor, and Hagrid, by clicking right here.

Woman dies for a Wii

I first heard of this story the other day on RC’s Strange Culture blog. In order to win a much-desired Nintendo Wii gaming console, a woman took part in a competition hosted by a Californian radio station, 107.9 The End (KDND). The objective of the Wii Wee competition: See how much water you can drink without needing to use the toilet. Sounds stupid but harmless, right? Well, this contestant, a mother of three, flooded her body, upsetting its electrolyte balance, and dropped dead.

See Nintendo? This is what happens when you give your consoles silly names!

Anyway, here’s the radio station’s apology/statement on the matter.

And here’s a recent news article on the fallout of the incident:


Ten fired after radio contest death
Reuters | Thursday, 18 January 2007

LOS ANGELES: A California radio station has fired 10 staff members after a contest to drink as much water as possible to win a new Nintendo Wii game console resulted in a woman's death, a company spokesman said today…


I'm shocked. Yesterday I got home to discover that my most recent Take2 order had arrived, within 8 working days. Why is this surprising? 3 of the 5 items were imports with a 10-15 working day delivery. What unusually good service!

Anyway, I now have in my possession Mark Waid's Kingdom Come and his Superman: Birthright reimagining. I'm also sorted for my sister's upcoming birthday, having bought her the How To Lose a Guy DVD and the real life autobiography When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase and the 90+ personalities who co-inhabit her body - who am I to question the weird, heavy material psychology graduates read for fun?

While my sister's gifts are a surprise, Paul's Valentine's Day gift isn't. I can't think of anything small to get him that isn't all schmaltzy, so I've paid for volume 5 of The Goon series (Wicked Inclinations), which he had asked me to order for him. Nothing says love like Depression-era zombie clobbering.

And my creative dir…

I've been reviewed!

Blog-reviewing blogs take self-referentiality to a whole new level. And now I'm the subject of one. It feels... odd. I'd seen my hits jump recently, particularly among SA web surfers - obviously it's not just The Pond crowd dropping in for a quick catch-up anymore.

Anyway, apparently VhailorZ, the owner of SA blog focused Domkop, has been reading Pfangirl Through The Looking Glass since last July or so. Now I'm the subject of his latest blog review.

Some of VhailorZ's comments I agree with; some I don't - there are a lot of excellent competitive female gamers out there; I am not one of them - in fact, I stay far, far, far away from that realm of oddity. Take a look and let me, know what you think... Does this place need a visual overhaul?

Starting a new celeb charity movement...

Yeah, I committed awards show blasphemy last night by not watching the whole screening of the Golden Globes. I'd seen the results earlier in the day on the Internet so I knew who the winners were. Besides, I got home from movies and stayed up to see the tail-end of Warren Beatty's acceptance speech and then the last 7 or "most important awards" at the end of the evening.

The full list of nominees and winners is HERE for anyone who is interested... I enjoyed the TV drama category this year, with a lot of worthy, highly enjoyable nominees:

"24" (Fox)
"Big Love" (HBO)
WINNER: "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)
"Heroes" (NBC)
"Lost" (ABC)

Anyway, I digress, watching the show I have decided to follow in the footsteps of a worthy celebrity-related cause, the fundraising for panties My overall goal is to get nominated actors, musicians, directors etc. etc. at awards shows to STOP CLAPPING FOR THEMSELVES. Don'…

Trailer Tuesday: Grindhouse

In recent years Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have proven themselves the masters of postmodern movie cool with such films as Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Sin City. In 2007 they’re joining efforts yet again, with Grindhouse, a tribute to low budget, cheesy exploitation films of the 1970s.

Grindhouse plays out as two feature films, Rodriguez’s Planet Terror and Tarantino’s Death Proof, positioned back to back, complete with fake movie trailers separating them.

It’s a novel concept and the movie marketing department is going all out for a wonderfully retro feel. I’m definitely intrigued. I just hope though that the film doesn’t veer too deeply down into From Dusk Till Dawn territory (a previous Rodriguez-Tarantino collaboration). I just couldn’t appreciate that silly drek at all.

The Amazing Race: All-Stars

Although I'm a big Survivor fan, I have always been a bigger Amazing Race follower. Apart from taking notes as to all amazing places to visit that the show highlights, I really find myself becoming emotionally involved in the series. I know I'm being manipulated as a viewer but I can't help getting wound up with frustration when my favourite teams come up against delays, or maybe even cry when they are eliminated.

Anyway, there have finally been enough seasons of the multi-award winning reality hit to justify an All-Stars edition (remember Survivor: All-Stars?). reports on a USA Today article which reveals the love-them/hate-them teams who will be returning to participate in this series:

USA Today has revealed which teams from seven of the past 10 seasons will return for "The Amazing Race: All-Stars," premiering on February 18.

Only one team — Uchenna and Joyce Agu — was a past winner, in Season 7. But others are standouts: height-challeng…

The Weekend

Well, we didn’t have electricity this morning from 8:30 to 12:30 at the office. And now I sit twiddling my thumbs waiting for Account Executives to brief me. Mostly right now I feel like putting my head down on my desk and having an afternoon siesta.

Anyway, as for happenings on the weekend, Paul and I managed to squeeze in quite a few activities. This was despite me being passed out by 10:30 on Friday night, and Paul lying face down on bed by the same time on Saturday evening.

On Saturday morning we joined Gareth and Denbeigh at the Quarters Hotel for an enjoyable breakfast with Jackie before she headed back to the UK to earn pounds. The breakfast carried through until well after lunch, when Paul and I detoured down to Game City and picked up a self defence weapon each - in the form of an expandable ASP baton. It’s a self-defence alternative with reach, seeing as I don’t believe in guns, and the risk of AIDs in South Africa makes knives a no-no.

On Saturday afternoon we went for a cycl…

Fun for Monday


Pop culture updates and plans for the weekend

Well, for starters, new promotional artwork for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End has appeared online.

You can check out the rest of the pics right here.

There’s a nice little feature over at Gamespot on Jade Empire: Special Edition, an Xbox RPG that has been ported to PC, and will be released at the end of February. What’s exciting about Jade Empire? Well, it’s from BioWare, the team behind Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, and Baldur’s Gate. Plus, with an unconventional setting in the feudal Far East, the game’s emphasis is on kickass, customisable martial arts action.

Hooray, an RPG not set in an unimaginative medieval Western fantasy world!

While browsing Gamespot I also came across this jaw-dropping game: a Christian strategy game called Left Behind: Eternal Forces. Yes, that’s right. It’s a religious RTS, where, post-Rapture (God taking all the deserving to heaven), you have to convert the neutral masses of New York to Christianity, or lose the War to Satan and his min…

Birthdays & Up, up and away...

Hey everyone, thanks for the birthday wishes. The day actually didn’t turn out too bad even though most of it was spent at work. I ate way too much chocolate cake and Chinese food, kicked ass at 30 Seconds and in terms of pressie loot I received a Wacom tablet from Paul (I conceptualised my next Girlz ‘N’ Games on Tuesday, so it’s being put to use very soon), a jewellery box, the Family Guy PS2 game, some clothes and gift vouchers.

Anyway, I’m sure this will bug Batfan Dante but I’ve been something of a Superman mood lately;). More specifically, I’ve been brooding over the question of Superman’s upbringing and how it’s impacted on his goodie-two-shoes character. There are seeds growing in my mind about how I’d reinterpret the character, but I was curious to see if and how other people have handled the task. Turns out there are a few ‘official’ reinterpretations out there.

When online shopping for my sister’s bday present last week I ordered a copy of Kingdom Come (another one of those …

Anyone got $78 million to spare?

OK, I definitely know what I want for my bday... I just somehow need to raise $78 million. Anyone want to help me out and donate to my 'Buy a Castle' fund?


Dracula Castle for sale

Bucharest - The Transylvanian castle famous for its connection with the 15th century medieval ruler who inspired Dracula is being offered for sale for $78m, an attorney said.

The Habsburg family want to sell Bran Castle to the local council to ensure its future - but a government minister has criticised the price tag as "too expensive".

"We are trying to find the best way to preserve the castle in the interests of the family and the people of Bran," said the owner, Dominic Habsburg, in a statement made available exclusively to Associated Press.

The 14th century fortress is associated with Prince "Vlad the Impaler", whose cruelty inspired novelist Bram Stoker's creation, the vampire Count Dracula.

Legend has it that Vlad spent one night there.

It was returned …

Happy birthday... to ME

I'm sure most boys won't remember these guys, The Forest Friends, but all little girls of the 80's should.

Anyway, today I turn 25. That makes me a quarter of a century old. What a weird thought. I say weird, because I don't think it's really something to get in a funk over. I like to think I've achieved quite a bit in 25 years (for one thing I'm in print every month for, what, 20 people to read? ;)). Probably the biggest accomplishment though is the arrival here with little to no regrets.

It is a bit sucky having your birthday slap-bang in the middle of the week, and having to spend the day at work. I'm only opening my presents tonight, and hopefully the mysterious, expensive 'You'll love it' Christmas/bday gift that Paul has bought me, has arrived. I think it has, seeing as he's been going on all week about a 'surprise' tonight. After presents and the usual birthday cake candle blowing, we're having a proper multi-course Chi…

Trailer Tuesday: Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer

A few weeks back, around the time of the Christmas break, the teaser trailer for the Fantastic 4 sequel appeared online. Adopting the Devil Wears Prada approach to movie trailers, this teaser is essentially an edited clip from the movie, and would appear to focus on the Fantastic 4’s first encounter with T-2 lookalike, the Silver Surfer.

Now fanboys bitched and moaned about the original Fantastic 4, the elasticated Mr Fantastic special effects weren’t the best, and the story petered off into mindless action towards the end, but I remain impressed with the film. It was the Fantastic 4 as I know them – bickering X-Men predecessors, without much of the coolness factor. I thought the film was an enjoyable, pretty faithful take on the Marvel comic book. As a bonus, it managed to keep itself relatively free of geeky, ridiculous scientific technology that Reed so often devises.

Now I’ve never been a fan of the Galactus / Silver Surfer storyline (I like my superheroes without overblown extra-te…

Titan Quest: Immortal Throne

Although it has frustrated me in the past, I really can't get enough of Titan Quest. I bought the game in August or so and I'm still happily playing it. Playing on my own, I have a Conjurer who runs around with 2 summoned 'pets', a lava giant and litch king. Playing multiplayer with Paul, I have a Level 39 Battle Mage.

So anyway, I am very excited about the expansion, entitled Immortal Throne, which is due out sometime in early 2007. With an Underworld focus, and around 15 hours of additional gameplay, it sounds fantastic.

From Wikipedia:

During a conference call held on November 3, 2006, THQ revealed that an expansion pack is in-development, which currently has a release date sometime in early 2007 [2].

In the Holiday 2006 issue of PC Gamer, the expansion pack was detailed, which has been titled too. The plot is as followed, as said by IM producer Mike Verrette.

As Zeus and the pantheon of gods are packing up and declaring that the time has come for mankind to control its …

Weekend Activities

Well, it was a pretty quiet weekend. After a tough, laggy first week back, work finished early on a very sunny and hot Friday. I spent the rest of the afternoon flaked out on couch dozing and then did much the same on Friday evening.

On the very hot Saturday we headed to the beach to explore the Brighton Beach rock pools at low tide, but apart from a hiding lobster we didn’t find anything more interesting than the standard tropical fish. In the afternoon we floated around the pool back at my place, put my sister’s smoothie maker to good use and had a braai. Saturday was also Robin’s birthday so to celebrate we went to his place in the evening to play Ticket to Ride, the Marklin Collectors Edition.

Sunday was wet, typical of Durban’s current 7 day weather cycle that ensures at least half of the weekend is cloudy to downright cold and miserable. Paul and I lazed around, watched several episodes of the Gummi Bears DVD, played Titan Quest (we both picked up some very nice skill-enhancing i…